Read every word from Ole's press conference

Friday 18 September 2020 10:59

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer conducted his first press conference of 2020/21 on Friday morning, ahead of Manchester United's Premier League clash with Crystal Palace this weekend.

Given our post-season break, the boss hasn't properly briefed the media in just under five weeks, and the press had plenty of questions prepared for Ole, via video link.

Of course, transfer speculation was was one of the most discussed topics, but Ole also gave an update on the latest team news, fielded enquiries about Harry Maguire and Mason Greenwood, and was quizzed on new recruit Donny van de Beek.

See below for every word the boss said on Friday morning...

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United v Palace: Solskjaer's press conference

Watch Ole's press conference in full for his comments about injuries, transfers, Greenwood, Maguire and more...

How likely is [Donny] van de Beek to start this weekend and how is he settling in?

“He’s settled in really well. He’s a smashing boy, great personality; he’s come in with loads of energy and a big smile every day. He played well against Aston Villa so you’re likely to see him. Of course, I’m not going to name the team here today. I’ll have to do that to the boys after, in training.”

In terms of your aims for the season, the top four was your big aim for last year. What would you say would represent a successful season for Manchester United this time around?

“We can go into the new season with confidence with the way we finished last season. That showed what we’re capable of. We developed throughout the season and we need to keep developing and we’ve shown the potential. We need more consistency, but I think with a year’s more experience we should be getting that consistency. It’s a group that I don’t want to say what they cannot do. I think they can go as far as they want.”
As much as there is progress on the field – we can see that from just a couple of weeks ago – one glimpse at social media would suggest there’s a lot of fan discontent. Do you understand their frustrations that you’ve only signed Donny van de Beek? Do you have a message for the fans ahead of the new season?

“Fans will always want the best possible team to watch, the best possible Man United team. That’s the passion we want. With the history we’ve had, we can look back 10/20 years, you look back at the great players we’ve had. Since Sir Alex left we’ve been averaging fifth, but last year we got third which was a big step forward. Everyone saw the development in the team with Bruno [Fernandes] coming in, Harry [Maguire] being the captain and really showing leadership skills on the pitch and off the pitch. Aaron [Wan-Bissaka] did really well. We want to take a step forward and we want to develop. We want to go into the season with confidence, but we’re always looking to give the group a boost. We’re working on it.”

You mentioned Harry and the captaincy and the appeal. How’s his mindset and do you think it’ll be on the back of his mind, and did you ever consider taking the captaincy away from him?

“It’s a process where you keep on going. Knowing Harry, he’s a very strong character, so hopefully he can put that aside. Naturally, as a human being, it will be on the back of his mind, what’s happened this summer. Apart from that you just have to see how it develops with Harry. Personally I think he’ll be able to focus on his football, but you can’t predict how people will react. So far he’s trained well and has been focused. Hopefully that process will just go on and it’s something that will go on in the legal department.”
Without making it all about player indiscretions, Mason [Greenwood] had a tough time with England and things went on there. Have you had to speak to him about his responsibilities and his growth as a person and a football player?

“Yeah of course I speak to Mason, and I’ve spoke to Mason. Obviously, what we speak about will be between the two of us. The kid had a fantastic season, he’s just come through. I’ve worked, and the club and the staff have worked really hard when we gave Mason enough time on the pitch and exposure in the media, then you come to the end of the season and we’ve had less than two weeks off and he’s called up to the national team. I have to be honest enough to say I tried my best to give him a rest over the summer. The club, we asked specifically and pointed out that he needs a rest physically and mentally after that season he had. The first thing that happens, he’s called up and then he’s right there in the press. We’ve done whatever we can to protect him. I will keep on helping him and I know that when he comes back into the daily routine of the club what we do with him will be fine.”

And in terms of transfer business, how confident are you about new faces coming in before 5 October? Where are we at with Jadon Sancho, because the club are obviously trying to make attempts to bring him over from Dortmund?

“Of course, we’ve done some business with Donny and I’m delighted to get him in. He’s exceptional and a smashing lad. He’s a very good player who will give us something. You know I can’t say anything about players from others clubs out of respect for them. I can’t speculate. We understand that to get even further we need to develop what we already have and we’re looking to strengthen the team, of course we are. Let’s just wait and see if we manage to bring anyone in. I’ve been in dialogue with the club and we’re always discussing. Let’s see if we can bring anyone in.”
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Can I just clarify, with Mason, is he part of the group now, and is he available for Saturday?

"Yeah, he’s part of the group, yeah. With his testing and the COVID protocols, he trained by himself for a little while, he had some tests done, and of course as soon as it was possible, he’s with us. He’s a big part of the group. This is where he feels at home, this is where he’s – you wouldn’t call it ‘comfortable’, we challenge him – but we’ve got people looking after him. We had a plan with him throughout the [last] season and I think it worked really well. But he needed a rest. I look at the interview he did for the FA in the first national team game, he’s talking about maybe looking back at this season when it’s over, and that’s actually on the first day of this new season. So we have to understand that it’s an 18-year-old kid there who needs managing.”

Could you just tell us who your goalkeeper is going to be tomorrow and how you’re going to manage to keep Spain’s no.1 goalkeeper and someone who’s in the England squad together in the same squad?

“I’m not going to tell you the team today, no, I’m not. But the training, the goalkeeper training, has been fantastic to watch. It’s so enjoyable. It’s the highest possible quality you can imagine, and all the goalkeeper coaches are really enjoying working with them and watching when we go into the games and some of the stuff they do. Some of the stuff is fantastic. It’s going to be an interesting thing for many to follow. I know that it’s great to see Luis Enrique talking about David [De Gea] the way he did after his internationals. Because coaches, you know, who work with players, they’ve got the respect that he shows, when he talks about: ‘Oh, it’ll be nice if the press suddenly wrote what a great goalkeeper we have’ and it would be great if you, the press, wrote good things about them too. They’re working well together at the moment. Sergio [Romero] hasn’t come back yet because he was given some extra time with his family. [It would be nice for you] to write about not just starting to make problems between the two of them. But they’ve worked really well together.”

In terms of availability for tomorrow, are Luke Shaw and Paul Pogba part of the matchday squad? And a lot of Man United fans and pundits have been wondering: how can you fit Pogba, Fernandes and van de Beek into the same starting XI? Is it something you consider? Can you see three of them starting together in one match?

“Of course the three of them can get start together. Then again, you’ve got Scott McTominay, Fred and Nemanja Matic, as well, in midfield. So it’s not just about 11 players, or three players, in a squad of football. I’m sure we’ll see them together. I’m not going to tell you if it’s tomorrow or not, but yeah, both Luke and Paul are available for selection for how long we need them.”

Going back to Donny van de Beek, we spoke to him earlier this week, and he said that you noticed him already back in 2015. Can you tell us a little bit more about that, and what was it about him that caught your eye in 2015?

“That was his first goal he scored for Ajax, against Molde in a Europa League game. We hadn’t really prepared for him too much in that game, because he was one of the young and up-and-coming ones. He caught my eye with the way he scored his goal – great timing, got into the box, headed it, got over Joona Toivio – my centre-back – scored a looping header, and they clashed heads. There was loads of blood running down his face and I saw a brave boy but I also saw someone who was clever with his movement. That’s been his career, I have to say, in Ajax. He just developed and developed. You can see his enthusiasm – enthusiasm for football – but you can also see his enthusiasm for space and space into the box, and I think we needed to add goals from midfield. He’s one of those who will definitely give us penetrative runs, runs in behind, clever movements and he’s added to the squad really nicely.”

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